Fall break: St. Louis edition

| Staff Writer

While many students like to take advantage of Fall Break (despite it consisting of only one extra day off) by traveling to a large state school like the University of Missouri to experience Division I college football or returning home to visit family and friends, there are also several interesting day-trip options for students who decide to stay in the St. Louis area. Here are five excursions that can enhance any boring Fall Break, for those who want to escape the Washington University bubble and experience the Midwest.

For the foodie or wine connoisseur:

Missouri Wine Country

This may not be Northern California, but you can still traverse lush vineyards and practice the careful arts of swirling and wafting while sampling artisan wines at America’s first wine region, just west of St. Louis. While you’re there, you might enjoy a pleasant bike ride on a scenic trail atop a converted railroad or pair wines with their food counterparts at the winery’s bistro.

For the mall-loving shopaholic:

Chesterfield Outlets

Just about a half-hour away from school are the St. Louis Premium Outlets, boasting an impressive variety of outlet stores including J.Crew, Under Armour and everything in between. The outlets may offer a nice change from the Galleria not only because of the reduced prices but also because their layout as unattached stores allows shoppers some fresh air in between various shopping endeavors. While you’re in Chesterfield, be sure to stop by Rombachs Farm and pick up some pumpkins in celebration of fall and fast-approaching Halloween.

For the outdoors-y nature-lover:

Elephant Rocks State Park

Take advantage of the sunny weekend weather with expected mild temperatures and explore one of Missouri’s state parks, famous for its awe-inspiring pink granite formations resembling circus elephants. Formed over the course of 1.5 billion years, these impressive boulders consist of molten magma pushed to the surface of the Earth, cooled over time and weathered into its current shapes. There are several handicap-accessible trails in the park as well as designated areas for picnics.

For the history junkie:

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

To immerse yourself fully in the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, travel to Springfield, Ill., and visit the first interactive-experience museum of its kind: the Abraham Lincoln Library and Presidential Museum. Divided into two separate walk-through journeys, the pre-presidential years and the White House years, the museum is an all-encompassing glance into 19th-century America. While you’re in the area, you may also want to visit the New Salem State Historic Site, a reconstruction of the specific village where Lincoln spent his early adulthood.

For the adventure seeker:

Meramec Caves

Discover the reason behind Missouri’s designation as “the cave state” and explore the caverns lying below the Meramec valley, home to a wide variety of mineral formations in a stunning rainbow of colors. The walkways are well-lit and can be accessed only through guided tours by trained rangers. Facilities for lodging, camping and canoeing are all also available.

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